El Chino and Son Of The Mob

Stumbled upon a backlist book, EL CHINO by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin, 1990) at Terra Toys. Actually, it was Greg who picked it up as Say is probably his fave author/illustrator.

It’s a picture book biography about the first Chinese American bullfighter–beautifully illustrated (no big surprise there) and definitely stereotype busting. My only complaint is with the flap copy, which identifies Bong Way “Billy” Wong as the first “Chinese” bullfighter (rather than Chinese American), even though Say’s text clearly specifies that Wong and his five siblings were from Nogales, Arizona. At the risk of being cranky, being of Asian heritage doesn’t make Asian Americans any less American. Okay, it was only 1990, but then again, it was still 1990.

Finished SON OF THE MOB: THE HOLLYWOOD HUSTLE (Hyperion, 2004), and I’m cheering Gordon Korman‘s fresh, funny second look at a good kid growing up in a Mafia family. In this story, Vince is off to film school along with his girlfriend (the daughter of the FBI agent assigned to bring down Vince’s father, the godfather). He’s paired by the dorm gods with the resentful but enthusiastic light-fingers son of a well-respected politician. Vince finally feels like he’s escaped “The Life.” But then his brother and “uncles” start showing up, and soon, everything starts to get a whole lot more complicated. An irresistible story with broad-based appeal.